Hope Is Unrealistic

I have spoken, with pride, and from the pulpit, the fact that I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist, but a realist.

I now repent of such notions.

When I have said such things, it was to separate me from the irrational, polyanna-ish view of life which suggests that all is right with the world. It’s not and so a dose of what we call biblical realism is certainly necessary.

And yet it is far too easy to settle into ‘realism’ as an abandonment of hope. We can look at a situation, a marriage, a church, children, or whatever, and claim that we are being realistic about the situation as we paint the grimmest of possible outcomes. In so doing, we may  under the banner of realism be wrongly subduing hope.

Hope, really, is always just a bit unrealistic, isn’t it? Jesus encouraged his disciples to expect him to rise again from the dead. But they were realists. Peter’s friends prayed for something, but obviously not his release from custody. They were realists, after all.

Hope is always unrealistic. There is a place for rational evaluation of circumstances. But there is no place for rational evaluation displacing hope. And we who claim to be realists, we are all so good at displacing hope.

I am still neither a pessimist nor an optimist. But I do not wish to be a realist if that means emptying life of hope.

So, I’m hopeful. I think that is where we are supposed to be.